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Become Police Officer

Length of time to become A Police Officer

Become Police Officer

So, you’re thinking about joining the police force but might not be certain as to how long it takes. While you may be ready to get out on the beat amongst the long-anticipated action, the process isn’t exactly quick and requires a little patience.

Becoming a fully appointed police officer is not a short process. In fact, you should be aware of the physical and mental challenges while training. Put through a series of different tests, the average time taken to become an officer is anywhere between 6 and 12 months from your initial application.

Today, we dive into the role of a police officer, possible entry routes, and the length of time it takes to become a fully appointed officer in the UK and Scotland. Read on to discover more!

Role of a Police Officer 

Ultimately, the overall role of a police officer is to protect and serve the public to the highest standard while preventing crime in the community. 

Police officers play a critical role in the prevention and detection of crime. Equipped with legal powers to maintain the law, our dedicated police officers work alongside local communities and their colleagues to reduce the fear of crime amongst the community all while building policing confidence from within the public. 

The main duties of a police officer include:

  • Providing front-line support to a wide range of incidents and emergencies including attending victims’ houses, crime scenes, and emergencies 
  • Effectively engaging with victims, vulnerable people, witnesses, and suspects to prevent and defuse any dangerous situations
  • Conduct thorough investigations in relation to crime and submit high-quality findings for any criminal justice proceedings 
  • Pre-empt all dangerous possibilities to those in the community 
  • Interview witnesses and suspects for criminal proceedings

While this is just a brief overview of the duties and responsibilities expected of a police officer, anybody looking to join the force should be aware that no two days are the same. Flexibility is absolutely essential in this line of work!

Routes of entry to become a Police officer 

Whether you’re looking to join the police force as a full-time or part-time police officer, you’ve come to the right place! Let’s dive into the possible entry routes.

Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA)

Fully funded by the Police, the Police Constable Degree Apprenticeship (PCDA) is a vocational course that focuses on practical learning to help start your policing career. Running over a three-year period, it is designed for non-degree holders and will enable you to obtain a BSc degree in Professional Policing Practice. 

From day one you’ll be employed as a police officer spending most of your time on the frontline working alongside your team, turning your learning into practical experience.  

Find out more about the PCDA entry requirements 

Degree Holder Entry Programme (DHEP)

The Degree Holder Entry Programme is almost identical to the PCDA. However, the main difference is that this course is designed for students who already have a degree (regardless of the field). 

Find out more about the entry requirements

Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP)

The Initial Police Learning and Development Programme (IPLDP) is designed for those without an existing degree and lasts for two years. 

The course provides new recruits with practical on-the-job experience alongside classroom-based learning. Employed from day one, this programme is a great opportunity for new recruits to learn while on the job. 

The difference with this entry route is that you will not be awarded a recognised policing qualification upon completion. However, you will have a strong foundation of policing, police law, and practical experience.

Met Officer Gateway Programme

The Met Officer Gateway Programme is an academic course for beginning your career as a police officer. It is fully funded by the Met and gives you a level 3 qualification, equivalent to two A-Levels. Not only will you gain a recognised qualification through studying, but you will also earn a salary at the same time. This is a course to bring you up to speed before moving onto the PCDA to become a fully fledged officer.

This entry route runs over a 30-week period and from the day of entry, you will earn £30,500 per annum while spending your time learning at an in-house training centre in London.

Through a mix of classroom and self-study time, you will be expected to be available between Monday to Friday each week. This course is designed to steer your core skills and knowledge to becoming a police officer. Thereafter, you will sit a series of written assessments which will contribute to your final mark. 

How long does it take to become a Police Officer in England?

Now that you know how to start your career as a police officer in England, you might be wondering how long exactly it takes to become an officer. On average, it takes around 6 – 12 months from application to becoming a police officer. 

But why does it take so long and what does it entail?

From successful application, you will be required to sit a series of written tests designed to evaluate your understanding of language, information handling and numeracy. Thereafter, you will sit a fitness test, sometimes referred to as the ‘bleep test’.

Upon successful completion, you will then be required to train for 12 weeks, usually at a designated centre with a final written exam. Whether you chose to stay there for the duration is entirely up to you. 

After passing your final exam, you will sit a probationary period (while on the beat) before being appointed as an official police officer. 

How long does it take to become a Police Officer in Scotland?

Much like the rest of the UK, to become a police officer in Scotland, the entire application process usually takes between 6 and 12 months. 

From successful application, the process entailing written and fitness tests to the training centres are identical to the rest of the UK.

The Wrap-Up

To summarise, the process of becoming a police officer in the UK can last between 6 and 12 months. Factors such as background checks and written/physical tests can determine the length of time it takes for you to become appointed.

The process is not for the faint-hearted – it takes time, patience, and ultimate determination. 

Tom Brook

Tom Brook

I am a former Police Detective with years of knowledge and experience in investigating serious crimes across Scotland, working with communities and keeping the public safe. I aim to give back to the Policing community with this site!
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